What should President-elect Stephanie Herseth Sandlin accomplish while in office?
President-elect Stephanie Herseth Sandlin has a long list of credentials that have prepared her to take the reins of Augustana come August. Georgetown University graduate. First South Dakota woman elected to the United States House of Representatives. Raven Industries vice president for corporate development. Wife. Mother. Christian.
Given this list of qualifications, what will Herseth Sandlin accomplish during her time as president of Augustana University? Better yet, what issues and projects should she make an effort to address during her tenure on campus?
In terms of Augustana’s physical appearance, President Rob Oliver did a lot to take Augustana’s facilities into the 21st century: a new football stadium, soccer field and baseball complex. The Froiland Science Complex. Updating the Madsen Center and laying out plans for the Humanities Building and an eventual Student Activities Center.
I hope to see Herseth Sandlin continue this trend, but compared to other universities our size, one aspect of campus is still lagging behind: student housing.
The Summit II Apartments are going up on the east side of campus, but the south-side freshmen dorms are stuck in the 1960s. Freshman housing is in dire need renovation, whether that be through building two completely new dorms on the south side, transferring freshmen to the Granskou and Stavig Towers and creating new housing options for upperclassmen or updating the existing Bergsaker and Solberg Halls.
Though substantial renovations have been made to the freshman dorms in recent years, the buildings remain one of the university’s weaker selling points to potential students.
I also hope Herseth Sandlin strives to make Augustana a university that can both nurture the faith of its Christian students, while still opening its doors to those of different faith backgrounds or no faith background at all.
Though our classification as a Christian university calls us to love and welcome our neighbors, we do have a commitment to preserve and grow our own Christian faith starting here on campus.
Emphasizing Augustana’s Christian values without isolating students of other religions is a balancing act, but I’m confident Herseth Sandlin can take on the challenge given what appears to be a strong personal faith.
President Oliver took the core value of community to heart during his time as Augustana’s president, a commitment I hope to see Herseth Sandlin carry on in her tenure. Though Herseth Sandlin has a young son (Oliver’s children were grown), involvement in the campus community is a vital part of what makes Augustana, Augustana.
Herseth Sandlin should attempt to take this commitment to community as seriously as possible, employing new ways to interact with students and faculty.
She’s already shown an interest for student input through her Q&A session with students the day after her presidency was announced, along with her willingness to sit down for a Q&A with the Mirror.
I hope to see this already strong sense of community involvement continue throughout Herseth Sandlin’s presidency.
Kaylyn Deiter is a senior English and journalism major from Aberdeen, S.D.